New IDF recruits (Archive photo)
Photo: Shaul Golan
Arab-Israeli group: National service offshoot of occupation army
Baladna launches campaign calling on Arab-Israeli youngsters to boycott national service program. 'A state that doesn't recognize the national and collective existence of the Arab public cannot claim that it knows what this public's true needs are,' group says
Baladna – the Association for Arab Youth – is expected to launch a campaign Friday calling on young Arab-Israelis to boycott the national service, which it referred to as "an offshoot of the IDF".
The campaign's slogan will be: "National service – your way to the army".
A week-and-a-half ago the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee of Israeli Arabs launched a campaign against the government's intention to enforce mandatory national service on the country's Arab citizens, who are exempt from military service.
The committee decided to form a special taskforce to combat the government's decision which "contradicts the political, nationalistic and civil beliefs of the Arab leadership in Israel".
'Government still has a lot to prove'
Baladna officials said in a statement that "despite what the government claims, the national service is a branch of the occupation army, which has always acted against the Arab-Israeli population and the Palestinian people in general.
"Therefore, any attempt to present the national or civil service as social activity constitutes a deception of the public in general and the Arab public in particular," the officials said.
As part of the campaign, a conference calling on young Arab-Israelis to boycott the program will be held in cooperation with the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee of Israeli Arabs.
In addition, prominent Arab filmmakers, actors and musicians will take part in a special event to promote the campaign.
According to Baladna, "a state that doesn't recognize the national and collective existence of the Arab public cannot claim that it knows what this public's true needs are, and therefore cannot determine how young Arabs can best serve Arab society.
"Since its inception Israeli has been intentionally ignoring the Arab public's needs – so the government still has a lot to prove before it preaches to the Arabs about good citizenship," the group said.
Baladna director Nadim Nashef told Ynet, "We decided to launch the campaign following the government's decision regarding national service. We fear that this decision will lead to an initiative that would obligate all Arab youngsters to serve."